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Je Suis Charlie. Are You? January 10, 2015

Posted by voolavex in Terror.
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1 comment so far

It is an event that struck not just at Paris, but at the hearts and minds of reasonable humans worldwide. We are all Charlie.  And we should always be Charlie from this moment on because we do not seem to get it without vicious attacks like this one to remind us that we are not safe in our only home.  This is the only place we can be.  There is no default planet to escape to and set up life right now.  And probably won’t be in any reasonable future.  This is it and we are threatened – on every front.  We have raped and destroyed this planet.  Assaulted her and used her and do not yet seem to know we cannot just toss her away.  And this is bad enough to imagine – but the events in Paris are yet another reminder that we are engaged in a conflict that is a clear and present danger – to anyone who is not in line with the agenda of terror.  Why does this shock and stun us every time an attack occurs.  It shouldn’t.

War is a condition of mankind.  Peace on Earth is a construct and an individual desire because it has NEVER been part of history.  In recorded history there has never been peace on earth.  Perhaps peace for a while in some places – but the  planet has been in constant turmoil since history has been recorded.  As a species we like to rape, pillage, murder, enslave and terrorize others.  The  scriptures of almost every faith on this world are dripping in blood – perhaps Buddhism is an exception – but it too came to be in bloody times as well.  Did we crucify, toss to the lions, smite, riot, plague and burn at the stake every chance we got???  We sure did!  About all that changed was the effectiveness of the means.There are few tribes or clans or peoples that have not fought back against something.  And usually with violence.

So why did Paris stun us to the core? Because this is what it takes to keep us awake.  Lost lives and bloodshed.  And because there are some places in our hearts and mind that seem sacrosanct.  Paris is one.  And the invasive attack on Charlie Hebdo was up close and personal. It told all of us that we could be in our work, our homes, our daily lives, in the City of Light suddenly  into darkness and we could BE Charlie. Multiply each lost soul by billions and we are all Charlie – going about our daily business, at the water cooler or lunch or in the park.  This is the world we live in today.  Not much different than any other world except we are in the here and now.  We did not see people burned at the stake or heads rolled in Mayan bowling games – we see this now as hearsay in books.  Today, people are lashed in public for ideas that are not “acceptable” to the some and therefore must be punished as a warning to the many. But bowling games or caning – where is the difference?

France warns the French Jews in particular – but they might also warn the French Muslims who do not support terror as well.  They might point out that cathedrals and chapels are also at risk. They are all Charlie too.  This carnage in no way diminishes the carnage already visited upon the 21st century in its short life, but we should reflect long and hard on what it does accentuate.  We are a planet of monsters and a species who carry this dark capability all the time.  The very good are rare and precious. The Nobel Peace Prize is treasured because those to whom it is given are rare and precious.  Hitler was not an anomaly – he was just single-minded and in a better position to plot his course.  And the media was better.  And now the media is the messenger in an instant of all that is wrong and whatever is right. They do not achieve parity. Mumbai was a siege that last for days not even 10 years ago.  As we coast between slaughters expecting peace to give us a chance.  Imagine.

What I think and don’t say is that – but now I will – is – in the long history of my own faith – and until the 1900’s – despite ongoing plans for annihilation – my tribe did not do this. Current history may be a charged debate by those pro-and con Israel – but that is not the issue – the issue is that my tribe did not rain terror as recourse or payback or spite in more cases of threat and murder than recorded consistently on this planet. If the Christian prophet advised turning the other cheek – we epitomized doing it. Perhaps the hideous lesson in this is to understand how people are punished for what and who they are and think and how terrifying living under those circumstances has been for millennia.  And how some face it  honorably and others murder instead. I would suggest that people of any faith – not just mine,  be careful . This may just be the terror that all the previous terror in history has begotten.

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Dreams From My Father November 10, 2008

Posted by voolavex in Politics & Religion.
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2 comments
I had a wonderful father.  The beliefs he offered me and showed me  have stayed with me to this moment in time.  He was a Boston Irish Catholic intellectual with all the baggage that carries.  Short of cash and far too smart for his own good at a time when university was for the very rich., he never got his degree.  He always said his love of books was due to the fact his parents both worked in a book bindery and stayed employed during the Depression.  He passed it on to me.  He was a serious smart ass and a great wit.  He drank.  He was a snob and a social climber – the networker of all time. He was a  metrosexual before the word was ever coined.  He had quite a few jobs that made great stories. At eight he learned to drive and smoke.  He drove a hearse to and from the family speakeasy because he looked “mature” and they needed a sober driver.  He rappelled off the walls from under his bedroom window  and transported bathtub gin back and forth.  He told me the secret of a good bathtub gin was Red Lion Juniper Juice.  I was young enough to be impressed.  He was a butler. He went to Washington DC to work as a copywriter for the Washington Post and he was good. This was before we entered the war.  His cronies were all  admen and crackpots and they ran in a pack.  Not chasing women but more after the joy of the times they were in and the place they were in them. When in NYC he frequented Spivy’s Roof.  One day he wandered through the public rooms of the White House and saw Eleanor Roosevelt in her office.  He said hello and the next thing he knew they had a standing lunch date.  He revered her and I have no doubt he entertained her greatly.  One night, drunk on a Potomac golf course near the War College one of his cronies played reveille on his trumpet at 3 a.m.; the lights went on and the lot of them staggered like jackrabbits to get outta’ town.    He met  and courted  my mother in 1942 and two people could not have been less suited to one another – but it was war time and every GI wanted a sweetheart. He had been drafted (bad vision and flat feet did not keep him out of this man’s army)  and after resisting Sam’s call  he finally showed up with a pair of boxers and a quart of gin.  During the war they married and it went south from there but not before they had me and Boston apartment full of Heywood Wakefield furniture.  He wrote a book about his experiences in the Army and it was indeed published.  I have always been proud of this achievement because he was so happy about it.  He was an officer and a gentleman.  We’ll skip the re-up and the wrong assignment and the subsequent divorce – it was dismal but I did eventually wind up living with father in New York City and thus began my education in 1958.  My father was a Kennedy Democrat and rightly so.  As he liked to remind people he was born 3 days and 26 miles from JFK in 1917.  It didn’t take long for me to become just as enthralled.
 
During this period in my life my father sold Winfield China and his territory was New Rochelle and Mt. Vernon; his clients were middle class NegroesHe chose his territory.  He often took me with him and as a consequence my only experience with the Black community as a young teen was lemonade, cookies and a serious caveat to be quiet and respectful.  What I saw were working people with nice flats and good jobs. They didn’t seem very different to me than any other people.  Civil rights occupied his conscience and troubled him deeply.  From this I learned things I assumed everyone knew.  I was angry when I found that was not the case.The March on Washington was my father’s march.  And mine.  He had a seat – spiritually – at every sit-in and our worst falling out was when I called him a bigot after he told me I couldn’t go to Selma.  The reason: he was afraid white people would kill me.  He taught me the N-word was the worst word a person could utter. His beliefs and moral outrage never left me and when Barack Obama ran for president I could imagine how my father would have felt.  And I was sad because he didn’t live to experience this sublime moment in the advancement of his cherished thoughts.  I know I voted for Obama, at least partly, as a result of my father’s wisdom.  And I know that I cast my ballot for Obama and his platform from a deep and precious place – a place that would never have been born and never have flourished without the dreams from my father.